Reviews - CDs and DVDs

Double Trouble - Les Neish and James Gourlay

Double Trouble CD-SFZ152Double Trouble - Les Neish and James Gourlay

Tubalate and Foden's Band

Egon: CD-SFZ152

This is the second CD that I have reviewed featuring the contemporary Tuba Superstar Les Neish, he shares this disc with James Gourlay, Tubalate and The Fodens Band. It features the music of Barbara Thompson and Andy Scott.

The title track Double Trouble is a duet for two tubas and encompasses (as usual for Les?) a range of 4 octaves! Barbara Thompson says she wanted the clearly defined sections or moods to allow the performers to show what the tuba is capable of. Les and James really do this admirably, the music flows so well and the contributions from Fodens add even more class.

Salt of the Earth comes next – here Andy Scott gives a real work out for Les, this piece featured on Les’ earlier CD and covers lots of ground stylistically. Blues – Latin – Funk – Gospel – Big Band Jazz. The band is, as ever on top form and works so well with the soloist. Not my favourite piece in the tuba repertoire I have to say but I can say nothing other than the playing is stunning.

Going Down by Andy Scott is really something different. James Gourlay performs accompanied by CD – which is compiled from sounds created in various ways by a tuba! Percussive clicks, breathing sounds and others form the background while the soloist goes through the three movements that make up this jazz-influenced piece. Lots of lyrical playing and a fair amount of free improvisation.

Bite the Bullet by Andy Scott features "Tubalate" – the euphonium/tuba ensemble originating from the Royal Northern College of Music. New Orleans Jazz influences in this track – "very in your face" music – nothing wrong with that, but I prefer "Tubalate" in more mellow mood.

The last work Living in the Fast Lane features James Gourlay with Fodens.

A Concerto of a very different sort. Barbara originally composed this to be accompanied by a jazz big band, this has been arranged for brass band instead.

James described this piece as "one of the most difficult pieces ever written for tuba" – met head on by Jim it certainly lives up to his description. I like this piece lots and wait for other soloists to have a go with it.

Overall a virtuoso disc from every contributor, ground-breaking in every sense. The composers’ backgrounds give a massive clue as to the resulting Jazz influence overall.


1. Double Trouble, Barbara Thompson Les Neish and James Gourlay, [7.23]

2. Salt of the Earth, Andy Scott, Les Neish (Tuba)

    Movement 1, [5.34]

    Movement 2, [4.39] 

    Movement 3, [4.31]

3. Going Down, Andy Scott, James Gourlay (Tuba), [9.41]

4. Bite The Bullet, Andy Scott, Tubalaté and Ben Gray (Drums)

    Movement 1, [3.43]

    Movement 2, [2.46]

    Movement 3, [4.03]

5. Concerto for Tuba and Brass Band 'Living in the Fast Lane', Barbara Thompson arr. Jim Fieldhouse, James Gourlay

    Movement 1, [5.43]

    Movement 2, [4.56]

    Movement 3, [6.27]

Gordon Eddison

Bass player with Yorkshire Imperial Metals, Hammonds Sauce Works, YBS and Carlton Main Frickley - now retired! currently MD of York RI and Otley bands